clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Voices: Defending Dougco's reform efforts

Douglas County parent Meredith DeVencenty Rudolph defends the school district and argues Dougco schools are on the leading edge of reform nationwide.

Douglas County Schools are among the top schools in the state of Colorado. Like many other parents, I choose to live in Douglas County because of our great schools. Unfortunately, the teachers union and a few of its friends have launched a campaign to tear down the reputation of our school district.

Douglas County Schools are leading the nation in reforms that will put our children on the career path of their choice. District leaders have made a commitment to increased transparency and they have achieved it in a number of ways, not the least of which is simply posting all financial information on line in a searchable form. Finally, this board has promised fiscal responsibility and it has delivered. The budget has gone from red to black.

Unfortunately, doing what is best for our students is not the aim of everyone and it is no surprise that these bold reforms have ruffled some feathers. In fact, union leaders have filed grievances because the district refuses to accept demands that protect the union’s interest, not the interests of teachers or kids.

Too often, the protectors of the status quo twist the facts and target the entire organization for their own gain. In a recent example of this destructive behavior, the Strong Schools Coalition sought to criticize our schools and our board of education simply because coalition members do not support reform. One of the leaders of the group is a former employee and a failed school board candidate who clearly has an ax to grind. She and her organization have launched a series of attacks that appear to be motivated by their own political ambitions rather than what is good for our schools.

Consider that just last week, the Colorado Department of Education released TCAP scores and once again, Douglas County ranked as one of the top-performing districts in the state. In fact, DCSD ranked number one in reading scores in the metro area. The achievements of our teachers and our students is no short list. Last spring, 967 district high school students earned a 5 on their Advanced Placement exams – the highest score one can earn. And, in a unique program available only in Douglas County schools, high school students earned 6,949 college credits.

As students returned to school in recent weeks, the Strong Schools Coalition launched an attack on the school board claiming “secrecy continues, free speech is being limited and First Amendment rights are being stripped away.” This is ridiculous.

Take, for example, the Strong Schools Coalition’s claim that the board spends too much time in “executive session” discussing legal strategy. The coalition failed to note that the board was sued by the ACLU and others. Sensitive legal strategies should not be shared in public with the opposition. The coalition also failed to mention that this board has raised nearly $1 million in private donations to defend against the lawsuit in order to put as much money as possible into our schools.

The Strong Schools Coalition also claimed that this board has limited public engagement. That is simply false. The board of education and district leaders have done more in the last year to engage the public than I remember any previous board ever doing. For instance, they launched a series of telephone town hall meetings to connect with parents and the community.

As a parent who is highly involved in my children’s education, I am highly offended that this group claiming they speak for our community are attacking our schools.

We should celebrate our schools. I urge everyone to question these negative attacks and stand up for DCSD. Join me and other parents on Facebook at I Stand With DougCo Kids today.

About our First Person series:

First Person is where Chalkbeat features personal essays by educators, students, parents, and others trying to improve public education. Read our submission guidelines here.

Help Chalkbeat raise $80k by Dec 31

Chalkbeat is a nonprofit newsroom filling a vital community need. We could not do this without you, and we need your support to keep going in 2022.

Connect with your community

Find upcoming Colorado events

Sign up for the newsletter Chalkbeat Colorado

Sign up for our newsletter.